Ben-Ari, Eldad 370.
(photo credit: Ben Hartman)
Calling it a move to “banish the darkness,” right-wing MKs Michael Ben-Ari and
Arieh Eldad held a Hanukka candle-lighting ceremony in south Tel Aviv on Monday
to issue a call to expel all African migrants from Israel.
Eldad, the top two MKs on the Strong Israel party list for the upcoming
elections, held the ceremony in Lewinsky Park, the epicenter of the African
migrant community in south Tel Aviv. A few dozen supporters joined them, far
outnumbered by the combined mass of journalists, African migrants, police and
“We are heading to elections and we need this
strength here in order to return the infiltrators home!” Ben-Ari said, adding,
“The people of Israel returned to their country [Israel], and the infiltrators
will return to their countries as well.”
Ben-Ari, who has been among the
most outspoken opponents of the 60,000-plus African migrant community in Israel,
added, “This land belongs to the Jewish people, our forefathers, and our
families. To our dismay, Netanyahu fell asleep at the wheel on this and
there are now parts of Israel undergoing occupation.”
parliamentary aide and right-wing activist Itamar Ben-Gvir said, “We came to
expel the darkness!” but added that the message of the rally was not racist, as
they accept Ethiopian Jews.
He clarified that the “darkness” refers to
the poverty and suffering among residents of south Tel Aviv and other
neighborhoods with high populations of African migrants, and not to people of
North Tel Aviv resident Gali Avni said she came to the event not
as a counter-protester, but rather to try to moderate in case things got out of
Avni, who has volunteered handing out meals to homeless migrants
sleeping in the park, said the refugees are not to blame for the problems in the
“The social problems that result from this are caused by
the government that leaves the\se people [African migrants] here, sleeping in
the streets without the ability to legally work or support themselves,” she
As the ceremony petered out, a few shoving matches and heated
arguments broke out between supporters of Strong Israel and those who came to
oppose the candlelighting.
Nonetheless, the situation remained rather
lowkey and under control.
A strikingly different event occurred just a
few minutes away at the same time in Tel Aviv, at a conference held to mark the
64th anniversary of the adoption and proclamation of the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948.
delegation in Israel organized a reception to highlight the network of human
rights organizations they sponsor in Israel. Sponsored by the Netherlands
Embassy in Israel in cooperation with Merchavim: The Institute for the
Advancement of Shared Citizenship in Israel, the seminar was titled
“Perspectives on the Context and Attitudes Shaping Israel’s Current Policies
toward Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Migrant Workers.”
organizers, the aim of the seminar was “to provide a podium for
knowledge-sharing about the topic and to stimulate public debate about the
challenges facing the already fragmented Israeli society.”
included Yohannes Bayu, a refugee from Ethiopia and director and founder of the
African Refugee Development Center, and Marcelle Reneman, an expert in
immigration law at Leiden University in the Netherlands.
In a statement
released ahead of the meeting, the Netherlands Ambassador to Israel, Caspar
Veldkamp, said the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is one of the greatest
political statements in world history, and its importance is no less valid
“What has often been forgotten is that it was largely drafted over
one long weekend by one single man, René Cassin, who through his Jewish father
was very much aware of the tragedy of the Shoah,” he said.
received the Nobel Peace Prize. In celebrating the existence of the Universal
Declaration, we also celebrate his achievements.”